From the desk of Suzie Brooks, Managing Director
On 18 March 2020 we took the decision to work from home and temporarily close our offices, for the health and safety of our staff and their families.
We loaded our 27” iMacs into our cars and headed home.
I personally was quite excited about working from home again after all the years of working late nights at the office. I could have my morning coffee and my lunch out in the garden, I could put my washing on during the day and I could exercise for an hour every day.
I was also excited about helping all our clients through the crisis, after all financial management and business advice is what we do best.
Zoom wasn’t new to us as we already used it for client meetings when travelling wasn’t feasible. All we needed was a secure instant messaging tool to keep in touch with staff, and that was it!
When the official lockdown announcement was made by Boris on 23rdMarch 2020 we were set and ready to go.
We developed and wrote crisis management webinars and a Facebook group was set up to provide advice to literally any business owner who needed it.
We wanted to support everyone we could through the pandemic.
It was quite ironic really after years of trying to explain what we did for our clients, to support them and help them grow, we were finally able to really prove how good we were at it – during a pandemic.
Whilst some other accountancy firms went home and put their feet up, we stepped up.
We worked 18 hour days searching for and deciphering all the rules surrounding the financial support available to businesses. Whilst communicating all of this information to clients and other businesses, we also came up with novel ideas for some of our clients to continue trading, when many of them were terrified that they would lose everything they had worked so hard to build.
The response to our efforts was quite incredible – messages of thanks began to pour in, followed by streams of flowers and alcohol in recognition of everything we were doing for them.
This was our time to shine!
The reason Brooks was established was based on our desire to serve our clients and provide the best possible support through the good times and the bad times!
As the lockdowns continued so our free support continued and we realised our workload wasn’t going to lessen anytime soon.
The furlough claims became more time consuming and complicated but we took the decision not to charge for them as our clients were already struggling.
New financial support measures were varied and complex, causing us even more work. We were doing cash flow forecasts and loan applications in our sleep.
We were constantly bombarded with emails, text messages and phone calls every time a new initiative was announced. As well as dealing with all these enquiries we still had our normal workloads too – VAT, accounts and tax returns still needed filing on time.
The joy of helping our clients was starting to wane.
I might not have got to have my morning coffee and my lunch in the garden and the washing rarely got done, but then we weren’t going anyway so who needed clean clothes!
But we were still lucky, we weren’t in the health care profession.
We didn’t work for days on end putting our own lives at risk to save others.
We sat at home in front of our computers, surrounded by our family. We knew people who were sick but we didn’t lose any of our family to this awful disease.
During the period of the lockdowns we employed 2 new staff members to help with the ever-increasing workload. We have yet to meet them in person as we were following the government’s advice and continued to work from home.
Throughout the entire 16 months since the first lockdown was announced we have continued with our weekly planning meetings and we’ve also had Friday afternoon self-reflection sessions – all on Zoom obviously – to make sure our staff were coping too.
We shared how this was affecting us all personally, because the health of our staff is just as important to us as the survival of our clients.
Now, one year, four months and three weeks after going home we are finally returning to the office.
The pandemic has taken its toll on us, there’s no doubt about that, but like every good entrepreneur and business owner we have regrouped, reassessed and are moving forward with the new opportunities that always present themselves in times of crisis.